The chase is on! In this harrowing clip, one Montana mountain biker finds himself racing for his life downhill with a large black bear in hot pursuit.
“A quick reminder that Montana is not Disney Land…” Montana Knife Company shares via Instagram Monday. Their footage, which is uncredited otherwise, shows a “black bear chasing a downhill mountain biker in Whitefish, MT” – both at full speed.
Not Disneyland, indeed! American black bears are a widespread and curious species that are capable of remarkable bursts of speed. Conservative estimates from Montana state officials place roughly 600,000 black bears present in the United States. As a result, outdoors’folk, conservationists, and the occasional mountain biker here are quite familiar with this widespread species.
Take this chap, for example, who found what surely started as a “biking-only venture” in Whitefish turn swiftly into “MUST GO FASTER.”
While the first thing we associate with black bears is definitely not their speed, this species is prone to incredible sprints. In fact, a lean, summer adult can run at 35 mph – full pace – and keep it up for several minutes. For context: this matches the full gallop of a common horse. So no matter what any myth or “Survival Joe” tells you, there’s absolutely no outrunning a black bear on foot. If you’re on a bike going downhill, however, you do stand a far better chance of escaping.
Such is hopefully the case for this Montana biker. Watch below as the bear cuts in between the winding dirt path at break-neck speed in hot pursuit of the athlete:
America’s Odd Relationship with Our Black Bears
To the surprise of many, hunting black bears is legal in 27 U.S. states and is often the subject of great debate. Humans have been hunting bears since the dawn of our species, so it isn’t exactly out of place. It was far more surprising, however, to many conservation-minded individuals in past decades as American black bear numbers plummeted across North America.
Thanks to strict conservation laws – of which hunting plays a large part – black bears have bounced back tremendously in the 21st century. As a result, the hunt is on, and many U.S. states are seeing huge increases in bear harvests.
This makes the task of hunting the species, or hunting anything in their territory, no less dangerous, though. These bears are notoriously curious and will approach humans, who they’ve come to associate with an easy meal (see: trash bins, campsites, and the like). In addition, the species can be highly territorial, as are all bears. And when one decides a human is a threat, there’s little said human can do to thwart off an attack. Unless you’re on a bicycle going 30+ mph downhill, of course.
While black bear attacks are incredibly rare, they do happen, and can result in fatalities. As a result, it’s always best to travel in large groups in bear country, and keep bear spray on you at all times in their habitats. For a full breakdown on how to survive a black bear encounter – and avoid them altogether – head on over to our Surviving a Black Bear: How to Prevent Encounters and Deter an Attack next.